Monday, June 27, 2011
Every now and again I come home from work to find the Good Cookbook Fairy (my Mum) has visited, leaving behind a shiny, new cookbook for me to devour whole. Last week I had a visitation and am now the proud owner of the Chez Panisse Desserts Cookbook - it's an easy read, nothing but text with no illustrations, but my what a book! A combination of classic, clear and well explained dessert recipes and quirky, homegrown spins on those classics.
The tarte tatin recipe immediately jumped out at me. I am now the owner of a lovely red cast iron skillet, which was begging to have such a dish cooked in its non-stick walls. Now, the tarte tatin was altered quite a bit by me to cope with the fact that I ran out of white sugar, and didn't have the time to make puff pastry, but oh what a recipe! It's the type of classic that lends itself to adaptation because it's so straightforward it's magic. But, the wonderful thing is, once you've mastered the Chez Panisse basic recipe, you can then move onto Lindsey Remolif Shere's other tarte tatin recipes (this is what I mean by her spins on classic desserts) - try Pear Tarte Tatin or Quince and Apple Tarte Tatin, maybe with a scoop of Clove Icecream or Cognac Caramel Sauce. It's definitely going to become one of my high rotation cookbooks!
But I digress. The key difference in my version of this recipe was the substitution of Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry for the fiddly puff pastry. Good god, what a triumph of convenience and delicious flakiness this recipe is - thank you Maggie Beer for your genius! Simply set up your food processor, add flour and butter. Pulse. Add sour cream. Pulse. It quickly forms a ball. Wrap in cling film. Refridgerate. Roll out. Bake. And, oh my goodness, what a glorious pastry this is. It has all the resilience of a short crust, with the flakiness of a rough puff (see the picture above, which shows the layers in my left over pastry scraps) and a wallop of flavour from the sour cream you just don't get in a lot of other pastries. It is the perfect combination for a tart tatin, and I highly recommend you give this recipe a go!
- one portion of sour cream pastry, rolled flat (recipe below - make this first, before starting the tarte)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- approximately 6 good-sized Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into four pieces
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons sugar (I used raw caster sugar with two tablespoons white sugar)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Peel, core and chop your apples. You should get two large domed "halves" and two smaller pieces out of each apple. The smaller pieces are good to fit between the larger half-circles. Toss these in a bowl with the cinnamon.
Heat a cast iron skillet (or suitably heavy-based, oven safe frypan) on the stove on a medium-high heat, then melt the butter. When melted, add the sugar and stir over heat until it is golden caramel and liquid. Take it off the heat before it burns because it will continue to cook in the latent heat in the frypan.
Now, place your apples, round side down in the pan. I put one large, circular piece in the centre, did a ring of the other remaining circular pieces around the outside of the pan, and then filled in between with the smaller pieces.
Cover the pan with the rolled-out pastry. Allow to soften, and then roughly tuck the excess pastry in around and between the apples.
Pop the pan in the oven 35-40 minutes (you'll know when the pastry is golden brown, it's time to come out). You can bake this in advance and reheat it when you are ready to serve, but just make sure the caramel is gooey and liquid when you are ready to serve.
Now comes the fun part. Cover the frypan with a large plate and (hopefully with assistance from a good friend) flip the pan, so the tarte plops out onto the plate. Now, slice and devour with ice cream or cream.
Maggie Beer's Sour Cream Pastry
- 200 grams unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 250 grams plain flour
- 125 ml sour cream (full cream)
Set up your food processor. Add flour and then butter. Pulse until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add sour cream, pulse until it forms a ball. Turn out onto cling film, cover and refridgerate for at least 20 minutes.
Before starting the tarte tatin recipe above, turn the ball of pastry out on a floured surface (I use a sheet of baking paper for ease of clean up), rub your rolling pin with flour, then roll out the pastry to a 3 millimetre thickness. Cut to fit your frypan, with some excess over the sides to tuck around the apples.